Brother refusing to help with elderly parents

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Black Vanilla
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Brother refusing to help with elderly parents

Postby Black Vanilla » Thu May 11, 2023 12:49 pm

Is anyone in a similar situation or could suggest how I can get resolution here. 

My parents are both elderly and live in the South West. 

I (female) am based in London and my brother is based in Swindon.

I am now heading to see them every week, when I can for 2 or 3 days at a time (my work is flexible).

My brother, who lives closer absolutely nothing! 

Hasn't got time, too much on with family, the kids' sport etc. I am really starting to resent him and his partner (who seems often the reason that he can't make it). 

I know that families are tricky but I really need him to step up and share the load but I don't know how best to do it without us falling out. It's not only that he doesn't help but he doesn't engage at all, I'm taking on all the "cognitive load" and when I want to discuss important issues like power of attorney or plans for what might happen if their health deteriorates he just says he trusts me to get it right.

This is becoming a very big deal and I've tried talking to him but he just brushes it off.
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Goldhawk
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Re: Brother refusing to help with elderly parents

Postby Goldhawk » Thu May 11, 2023 2:17 pm

Do you have a family or a partner?

 
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Black Vanilla
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Re: Brother refusing to help with elderly parents

Postby Black Vanilla » Thu May 11, 2023 3:38 pm

Hi Godhawk, yes I do. A husband and daughter. And a full-time job which is thankfully flexible. I think this is the part that grates, my brother has a wife who doesn't work and who I think could help out by supporting him help my parents if that makes sense.
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Rubysmum2013
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Re: Brother refusing to help with elderly parents

Postby Rubysmum2013 » Thu May 11, 2023 5:50 pm

Hi OP.  I completely understand where you are coming from.  My parents are suffering from quite challenging health issues now and I have a brother who has a similar attitude.  One of my parents is very seriously ill and is waiting for an urgent operation (has been waiting 3 months so far!) and the other parent is struggling with caring and also having to constantly phone the hospital to see whether they have a date for the op. Even though it is 2023 I think there is a presumption that daughters do the caring (!).  

I think ultimately it is lovely if children are able to help their parents but in reality, it is a huge commitment and some people will be unwilling or unable to step up.  I think you need to chat to your brother and ask him whether he would be able to commit any time as you are struggling.  I probably wouldn't mention that your sister-in-law is a stay-at-home parent.  I am currently at a SAHM and my sister-in-law has been hinting that she wants me to do more for her parents (they have been pretty mean to me over the years).  My kids are getting older and more independent and I am looking forward to getting back to work and having more time to do what I want.  

I think it is very easy for families to fall out over these sorts of issues (and inheritance!).  It is so stressful (I find I am constantly worrying about my parents these days).  I would try (if you possibly can) to not fall out with your sibling if you previously had a good relationship.  My brother is clueless rather than mean.
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yogidoulamama
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Re: Brother refusing to help with elderly parents

Postby yogidoulamama » Mon May 15, 2023 8:38 am

It is such a tricky situation but I suggest that you have a fairly open conversation with your brother without involving his wife or her availability. The fact that she is stay at home mum doesn't mean that she is not busy or has no other work to do, it is such an unhelpful assumption and it will just ignite your conversation with your brother if you mention it.

DIL would not and should not be expected to look after their partners elderly parents as they have their own to consider. I have taken a fair share for doing this for my husband despite being meanly treated by his parents for years but at some point had to put my foot down.

Your parents are yours and your brother responsibility only and without frank conversation between siblings nothing will get resolved. With my own brother we set up an agreed rota who looks after our mother and with whom she stays for period of time to make it manageable and it seems to work because we have made conscious commitments rather than assumed that the other sibling will pick up the slack.

I wish you all the best in resolving this as situation like this require a lot of compassion and patience.
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Elfy
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Re: Brother refusing to help with elderly parents

Postby Elfy » Mon May 15, 2023 10:29 am

Hi B:

I'm sorry you've been having such a tough time with getting your brother to share the load.  I know how difficult it can be to juggle work, life and caring.  I have had a similar situation with my brother and sharing the care for my Mom who was recently diagnosed with dementia.  I had to have a difficult conversation with him.  I found it helpful to prepare for that conversation with some talking points so that I wouldn't forget to say any important points in the moment.  Here is an example of the kind of talking points you might find helpful: Here are some talking points you could use when discussing the situation with your brother: 1. Acknowledge his busy schedule: Start the conversation by acknowledging that you know he's busy with work and his own family, but that you also have a lot going on. Let him know that you appreciate any time he could give to helping with your parents. 2. Talk about the importance of sharing the load: Explain that you're feeling overwhelmed and that you can't continue to take on all of the responsibilities of caring for your parents alone. Let him know that it's important for both of you to be involved so that you can share the load and make sure that your parents are getting the best care possible. 3. Highlight the fact that he lives closer to your parents: Mention that he lives closer to your parents and that it would be a big help if he could take on some of the physical tasks, like grocery shopping or driving them to appointments. 4. Discuss important decisions: Bring up the fact that there are important decisions that need to be made, like power of attorney and plans for if your parents' health deteriorates. Let him know that you don't want to make those decisions alone and that you would really value his input and support. 5. Suggest making a plan: Propose the idea of sitting down together and making a list of all the tasks that need to be done, and then dividing them up between you. This will help ensure that both of you are involved and that nothing falls through the cracks. Also, suggest that when it comes to the bigger decisions, you can discuss them together and come up with a plan that you both agree on.

6. Who else could help?: Suggest you think through together who else might be able to help with the care of your parents.  Do your parents have any friends that live near them who could drop in to see them once a week?  It's also worth looking into services such as AgeUK and others that provide companionship for elderly people living on their own. 6. Emphasize that you're in this together: Let him know that you understand that this is a difficult time, but that you're in it together and you need each other's support. Remind him that you're both their children and that you need to work together to ensure that your parents are taken care of properly. 7. End the conversation on a positive note: Thank your brother for his time and for being willing to work with you. Remind him that you're always there to support him as well.

At least you will know where you stand with your brother at the end of this conversation. 

Know this - you are not alone! There are many of us who like you are trying to do the right thing and are finding it very hard to juggle caregiving with work and our own families. 

Please do feel free to reach out to me if you would like to discuss ways of managing the cognitive load you are experiencing.
Last edited by Elfy on Mon May 15, 2023 11:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Elfy
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Re: Brother refusing to help with elderly parents

Postby Elfy » Mon May 15, 2023 10:32 am

Hi B:

I'm sorry you've been having such a tough time with getting your brother to share the load.  I know how difficult it can be to juggle work, life and caring.  I have had a similar situation with my brother and sharing the care for my Mom who was recently diagnosed with dementia.  I had to have a difficult conversation with him.  I found it helpful to prepare for that conversation with some talking points so that I wouldn't forget to say any important points in the moment.  Here is an example of the kind of talking points you might find helpful: Here are some talking points you could use when discussing the situation with your brother: 
1. Acknowledge his busy schedule: Start the conversation by acknowledging that you know he's busy with work and his own family, but that you also have a lot going on. Let him know that you appreciate any time he could give to helping with your parents. 
2. Talk about the importance of sharing the load: Explain that you're feeling overwhelmed and that you can't continue to take on all of the responsibilities of caring for your parents alone. Let him know that it's important for both of you to be involved so that you can share the load and make sure that your parents are getting the best care possible. 
3. Highlight the fact that he lives closer to your parents: Mention that he lives closer to your parents and that it would be a big help if he could take on some of the physical tasks, like grocery shopping or driving them to appointments. 
4. Discuss important decisions: Bring up the fact that there are important decisions that need to be made, like power of attorney and plans for if your parents' health deteriorates. Let him know that you don't want to make those decisions alone and that you would really value his input and support. 
5. Suggest making a plan: Propose the idea of sitting down together and making a list of all the tasks that need to be done, and then dividing them up between you. This will help ensure that both of you are involved and that nothing falls through the cracks. Also, suggest that when it comes to the bigger decisions, you can discuss them together and come up with a plan that you both agree on.
6. Who else could help?: Suggest you think through together who else might be able to help with the care of your parents.  Do your parents have any friends that live near them who could drop in to see them once a week?  It's also worth looking into services such as AgeUK and others that provide companionship for elderly people living on their own.
7. Emphasize that you're in this together: Let him know that you understand that this is a difficult time, but that you're in it together and you need each other's support. Remind him that you're both their children and that you need to work together to ensure that your parents are taken care of properly.
8. End the conversation on a positive note: Thank your brother for his time and for being willing to work with you. Remind him that you're always there to support him as well.

At least you will know where you stand with your brother at the end of this conversation. 

Know this - you are not alone! There are many of us who like you are trying to do the right thing and are finding it very hard to juggle caregiving with work and our own families. 

Please do feel free to reach out to me if you would like to discuss ways of managing the cognitive load you are experiencing.
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gemima
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Re: Brother refusing to help with elderly parents

Postby gemima » Tue May 23, 2023 12:17 am

Hi,

I read this last week and I had to reply.  I think all of the men and brothers here are appalling, selfish and downright sexist.  You are all equal siblings - how dare they expect you to do it all when you have your own job and family and live further away.  What is the reason?  Because you are a girl?

Tell your brother all of the things that Elfy mentions and then keep in the back of your mind what an utter disgrace your brother is not being around to love and care for your parents on their dying days and thinking it's just ok to leave this at your doorstep.

My parents are dead now and when both were elderly and sick my sister looked after my mum more than I.  I think this was because she was closer to her and likewise I had a better bond with my father so when he was dying I took on the majority of his care.  But between the siblings we all mucked in and even that was not enough.  The paperwork, the hospital, their belongings, the appointments, the care homes etc etc etc.  My husband's family the same.  All three kids joined forces (two males and one female) and they all shared the burden.  There should be no excuse from your brother, unless he is ill or incapable in any way, and to somehow think you're a girl so it's easier for you to do it all is just sexism at best allowing him to get away with doing any dirty work.  What a selfish, heartless man he is!
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tipenedju
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Re: Brother refusing to help with elderly parents

Postby tipenedju » Mon Jun 05, 2023 4:19 pm

Oh, that sounds really tough and frustrating. It's disheartening when family members don't step up to help with elderly parents. It's important to have open and honest conversations about the situation, but it's also understandable that you don't want to fall out with your brother.
Speaking of taking care of parents, I recently came across something that might be helpful for you. Have you heard of bed alarms for the elderly? They can provide an added layer of safety and peace of mind, especially if your parents have any mobility issues. It's always good to explore different resources and tools that can make caregiving a bit easier.
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